It’s easy to bemoan cluttered, messy listings that don’t photograph or show well and end up sitting on the market. But by helping to facilitate the decluttering and cleaning while preparing a home for sale, you can add value to your services for little more than a few minutes of extra time.

It’s easy to bemoan cluttered, messy listings that don’t photograph or show well and end up sitting on the market longer than they should. However, in some cases, the problem is not a lack of willingness on the part of your clients — it’s a lack of understanding.

By helping to facilitate the decluttering, cleaning and decorative aspects of preparing the home for sale, you can add value to your services for little more than a few minutes of extra time. After all, you know better than anyone what buyers in your area are looking for and what updates make all the difference.

Provide branded materials for prepacking

One of the first things you’ll probably advise your listing clients to do is declutter and depersonalize their space. Instead of making it a chore, make it fun. Provide a value-added service and a little free marketing for yourself as well by providing custom branded boxes and packing materials to get them started.

Bring a packing bundle with you to the listing presentation and leave it as a pre-listing gift. The message it sends is that you’re not just there to give orders. You’re there to provide support and help throughout the listing process.

Homeowners can sometimes feel resistant to putting away personal belongings. By framing the process as prepacking, you’ll make this emotional step feel more practical and logical.

Provide advice on decluttering and depersonalization

While you know what you mean when you tell homeowners to declutter and depersonalize, they may not. If you want your listing clients to get their homes ready to show, give them specific tips and guidelines to help them pare down their furnishings and decorative items.

Provide a handout, share an article from your blog or shoot a quick video walkthrough with tips and reminders. Include the following easy-to-follow guidelines for the homeowner to follow:

  • Come through your front door and walk through the home as if you are seeing it for the first time. Take note of furniture that blocks your way as you walk through and store it away if possible.
  • Look at tabletops, shelves, kitchen and bathroom counters, and other surfaces. Leave a maximum of three decorative items on each surface and put the rest away.
  • Treat the kitchen like a showplace. Remove magnets, pictures and papers from the refrigerator. Leave out only essential items on the countertop — a coffeepot or tea kettle, paper towel holder and, perhaps, a basket of fruit or a vase of flowers.
  • Design the bathroom as you would for a guest. Put away all personal items and toiletries. Leave out only decorative soap and towels.
  • Look for photos, tchotchkes and other items that have sentimental value or personal significance. Family photos, political memorabilia, religious books or artwork — anything that limits the home’s appeal to a specific type of buyer should be removed from view.

Remember, many buyers lack the vision to picture themselves in a new space. Depersonalization helps them with this process.

Connect sellers with helpful local services

Some sellers need a great deal of help preparing for their move. Consider providing a handout or webpage with contact information for the following services:

  • Cleaning
  • Decluttering
  • Landscaping
  • Handyman
  • General contractor
  • Pet daycare and boarding
  • Storage facility
  • Dumpster rental and removal services
  • Charitable organizations that accept donations of furniture, clothing and other items.

Suggest pod storage and moving

Streamline the process of decluttering, depersonalizing and moving by providing information on pod rental services. The homeowner can pack up decorative items and personal belongings, along with extra furniture, off-season clothing and other items, put them in a pod on their property, then have it put into storage until they’re ready to move.

Once they move, the pod can be delivered to the new address, emptied onsite and subsequently removed.

Provide advice on DIY staging

If your clients aren’t planning a full-scale staging for their listing, help them look for ways to maximize their space. Curate beautiful bookshelves, rearrange furniture to optimize flow, and help your homeowners identify easy, affordable updates where needed. Take a little time to help your client create a specific plan to perk up their space so that it shows at its best.

Antoinette Fargo is the co-founder and creative director of DOORA Collective + DOORA Design in Ventura, California.

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